An extremely bright gamma-ray pulsar in the Large Magellanic Cloud

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Science  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6262, pp. 801-805
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac7400

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LMC pulsar's bright gamma-ray flashes

Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that are seen as pulsating sources of radio waves. Some, such as the Crab pulsar, also emit pulses of gamma rays. The Fermi LAT collaboration observed pulsed gamma rays from a pulsar outside our galaxy, the Milky Way. The pulsar, known as PSR J0540–6919, is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). This is the most powerful gamma-ray pulsar yet known, with luminosity 20 times that of the Crab. The findings should help to explain how pulsars convert the energy stored in their rotation into detectable electromagnetic emission.

Science, this issue p. 801


Pulsars are rapidly spinning, highly magnetized neutron stars, created in the gravitational collapse of massive stars. We report the detection of pulsed giga–electron volt gamma rays from the young pulsar PSR J0540–6919 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. This is the first gamma-ray pulsar detected in another galaxy. It has the most luminous pulsed gamma-ray emission yet observed, exceeding the Crab pulsar’s by a factor of 20. PSR J0540–6919 presents an extreme test case for understanding the structure and evolution of neutron star magnetospheres.

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